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Title: What does the process of developing a personal narrative involve and how does it contribute to mental health recovery?
Author: Robertson, Samantha Jane
ISNI:       0000 0004 7234 2982
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2018
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This research is based on the premise that mental health recovery is an unique and individual journey (Anthony, 1993), and that developing a personal narrative can support mental health recovery. In current UK recovery-orientated provision, service users are asked to ‘tell their stories’ within clinical settings as a tool for diagnosis, formulation and treatment plans. There is little current evidence that narrative or narrative development is being used systematically within an NHS therapeutic setting. The aim of this study was to explore the process of developing a personal narrative and its possible contribution to mental health recovery. This study used a three-phased approach, where the emergent themes informed subsequent phases. Recovery background, study rationale, literature review (overview of narrative and use of media) and methodology are described to provide context to all phases. Phase 1 involved developing and analysing my recovery autoethnography, ‘From the edge of the abyss to the foot of the rainbow’. Phase 2 used a Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach. 11 co-researchers who had previously developed their personal narratives were recruited to two focus groups to discuss their experiences of narrative development. Six co-researchers continued into Phase 3, which involved three cycles of PAR. The output of the co-production was an eight-session, peer-led Personal Narrative Workshop Programme (to support service users to develop their narrative). This was fully documented – Programme Framework, Scheme of Work and Session Plans. The integrated emergent themes from the three phases provided the following key findings (all were incorporated into the workshop programme): a realisation of the difficulty of developing a narrative (reliving trauma); the value of developing narrative within a group setting (supports factors such as collaboration and validation); and the role of ‘the voice of others’ in our narratives (implications for relational ethics). Given ‘my insider perspective’, Phase 3 also highlighted methodological issues including: the complexities of using a PAR approach; the multiplicity of roles and tensions of those roles; and the tensions between the PAR process with the need to develop practical outcomes (for the PhD process). A key element of the Personal Narrative Workshop Programme was ensuring a balanced approach between educational content and the time and space to ‘do’ within a supportive environment.
Supervisor: Donovan-Hall, Margaret ; Carpenter, Diane T. ; Bartlett, Ruth Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available